Fri, 25 Oct 2013 19:49:05 0100

I've somewhat intentionally been away from my desk for most of October so far. Before mid-September or so, I'd forgotten that the commute on 101 traditionally becomes a complete nightmare during the "back to school" period (is it people driving their kids in in the morning? Everyone just coming back from holiday and remembering they should go to work?), but if I'd remembered, I couldn't have run away from it better. On the first of the month, I flew to Minneapolis for my annual ritual of angstily trying to engage with the topic of women in computing -- but this time, with pre-set boundaries! At the Grace Hopper Celebration (not, natch, Conference) for Women in Computing 2013, I gave interviews, worked the booth, ran into both of my female CS professors from Swarthmore, and said hello to an acquaintance who happened to be holding a microphone and working for TechCrunch. The result of the latter was several videos on their website in which I managed to not sound either evil or stupid (my colleagues shuddered in the corner as I eagerly spewed party line for the camera about why diversity ultimately is good for teams); the result of the overall engagement is hopefully an intern or two for Google next summer, some good experiences for undergrads, a bowl of late-night gin punch with Connie-Lynne and others at a fantastic hipster bar, and four glorious days of not having to slog through the molasses of Northern California autumnal traffic.

Weekend oncall shift. Laundry; boyfriend; yoga. Monday morning, off to London to see the team there (and to meet half of them -- so fast they grow!), drink tea from adorable China cups, see some Shakespeare at the Globe with Eddie, give a presentation, eat Szechuan and Israeli-vegetarian food by turns, and expand my knowledge of the British cocktail scene. Daily commutes were happily made via Tube (perhaps the most efficient mode of moving massive quantities of humanity ever), instead of 101 (possibly the least).

The main parameter for the following week was, where in Europe is a direct flight away, and will have nice weather at the end of October? Answer: Lisbon (I flew down; Jack flew over). It rained last night -- dumping buckets in the Bairro Alto neighborhood as Jack & I shielded under the hotel umbrella, dashing over wet cobblestones from dinner (Thai food, traditional Portuguese fare not really being an option for two vegetarians) to the wine bar we'd come to trust. There was also a steady drizzle the day before, as I'd driven our rental Fiat up a tiny cobbled pathway to a Port-focused winery that dismissively shuttered their doors ten minutes earlier than advertised. Gales in coastal Porto on the drive back, my idea of exploring the northern city's azulejo tile-work scuttled by the difficulty of holding both a camera and an umbrella, and the dampness of our shoes.

But the above was basically the sum total of adverse weather we got during the whole of last week. The forecast looked dicey in west-Lisbon Belém, but the umbrella stayed folded while we figured out how to assemble packets of cinnamon and sugar on top of still-warm, custard-filled pasteis; the only drops we felt in the adorable town of Sintra were on the main sidewalk leading up to the Palacio -- none at all in the woods and bramble behind a 8th-century Moorish castle, as we hiked along an ancient, moss-covered wall: A pathetic siege-laying party but a serendipitously awesome hike in flip-flops. There were pink cotton-candy clouds overlooking Lisbon's Ponte 25 de Abril (the twin bridge to our Golden Gate) the first night he arrived, as we sipped few-euro drinks on a patio with a miradouro and a view of the sunset; those pink fluffy clouds showed up again from the balcony of our hotel at Quinta do Vallado up in the Douro Valley when we arrived Tuesday evening, finding a half-bottle of the house vintage and two deck chairs waiting for us on a private balcony with a view of the terraced hillside opposite.

It took us ten months to finally spend a whole week together (not entirely counting the two weeks -- May; September -- we spent in New York, working from the office there). He gives me these melty looks over dinner from time to time. Changed his Facebook profile photo to a new one of us together during our assault on the Castelo dos Mouros. Still seems to like me. I'm still pinching myself.

So, yes: I have successfully avoided my commute down 101 for four straight weeks. But what I'm even happier about is this boy, still smiling at me and still holding my hand.